Random Thoughts

Now the Dominoes are Really Falling, Arjuna

The post-WW2 American empire hallucinated about a monolithic Communist threat to the world after the descent of the iron curtain and the loss of China. It failed to recognize the nationalistic leanings of third world colonies and imbued their desire for independence to a communist conspiracy just as American President Wilson after WW1 had ignored the aspirations of the Kurds and the Vietnamese at the Paris conference despite his phony proclamations about the right of self-determination of nationalities. The amusing irony is that India was represented at the highest level in the Paris Peace Conference by the British.

Thus America used its might to thwart the legitimate desires of Ho Chi Minh led Vietnam by revoking prior Geneva agreements after the French defeat at Dien Bien Phu and starting the Korean War under the UN auspices. The rationale was to prevent the falling dominoes of Thailand, Laos and Cambodia in Southeast Asia and Japan in East Asia. Malaysia and Indonesia, the latter with the help of Suharto, had been just recently saved from the scourge of spreading communism by the British and Americans respectively. Lumumba had been neutralized together with the UN Secretary General in Congo, to avert the specter of the plague of communism in Africa.

The blowback was the victory of Vietnam and its allies in Cambodia and Laos. Today US-South Korean relations are at their worst with South Korea making greater overtures to North Korea and vetoing the use of force by the US. The pathological hostility to Cuba and its isolation while cooing to China, and continuing the exploitation of the Americas by the Monroe doctrine, the neo-liberal globalization agenda and training of military despots and death squads at the School of the Americas, led to the military dictatorships in Argentina, Bolivia and Brazil and oligarchic exploitation in the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Mexico and Venezuela.

Now the leftist mayor of Mexico City is poised to win the next presidential election. Venezuela has the populist Hugo Chavez firmly esconced, despite repeated attempts at coups and recall. Bolivia has a native Indian president who is openly anti-US and determined to lift the ban on coca farming and gouging by foreign energy multinationals. Argentina has a nationalist leftist leader shunning the IMF and the US. Brazil has Lula's labor government which has failed to fulfill its promises of alleviating the poverty of the masses, and will be succeeded by an even more anti-US leadership. Chile has elected a socialist woman president who personally suffered during the CIA inspired overthrow of Allende and the subsequent torturing Pinochet regime. Peru and Ecuador will probably choose populist leftist anti-US leaders. The threat of withholding development aid that led to the election loss of the Sandinistas is likely to be reversed by the incompetence and corruption of the US financed party in leadership. Haiti has become an ungovernable mess due to the ill conceived and unjust interference with the Aristide government to benefit US corporate interests. The free trade zone of the Americas was dead on arrival at the recent annual meeting of the OAS.

The foolish misadventures in the Middle East have resulted in warlord rule in Afghanistan, a failed narco-state where the Taliban are resurgent due to huge drug money resources. The misguided invasion of Iraq has resulted in a Shia dominated Iraqi government friendly to America's arch enemy Iran. The blind one sided support of Israeli occupation, wall and settlement building and financing of Fatah has led to a stunning and overwhelming victory for radical Hamas intent on Israeli destruction. The visceral hostility to Iran has propelled it to the path of nuclear weapons and the high price of oil has made it immune from sanctions on oil sales, the only thing really likely to hurt the theocracy. The unintended false slogan of democracy mouthed by the lying US administration has led to a significant gain in parliamentary elections in Egypt for the Muslim Brotherhood.

Turkey already has a moderate Islamist party ruling and pressure on it to serve as a springboard for bombing or invading Iran will make matters worse, as will its exclusion from an expanding EU worried about terrorism and paranoid with xenophobia particularly towards Muslims. Pakistan is falling apart with rebellions in Baluchistan, FATA of the Northwest Frontier provinces and unrest in Sindh. It provides sanctuary to leaders of Al Qaeda and Taliban and seethes with anti-US hatred. Hizbollah has consolidated its political grip on Lebanon. Syria, Saudi Arabia and Jordan are volcanoes waiting to explode and bring radical Islamists to power. Yemen straddles the border between pro and anti-US sentiments, with the government intermittently pro and the people overwhelmingly against. Somalia is already a failed state that is a haven for sundry terrorists.

Indonesia has become the hotbed of radical Islamists. Malaysia is slowly drifting away from its pseudo-secularism under Malathir, as its economic miracle slows. Southern Philippines and Southern Thailand are separatist strongholds of Islamic secessionists. A Pew international poll shows rising anti-US sentiments and the US policy in Bagram, Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo and Rendition gulags has caused loss of respect in the international community.

Only American military might engenders some fear and trepidation. The unending flood of the relentlessly printed US dollars by the Federal Reserve sloshes around in the international markets. It is a matter of limited time before respect for the currency is lost. Does anyone remember that the British pound was worth five dollars, the Indian Rupees five to a dollar and the Iraqi Dinar, Iranian Rial and Indonesian Rupiah are currently worth a fraction of what they were a decade or two ago.

Currencies have no intrinsic value and their status is even less secure and stable than other commodities like gold and silver. They have even less intrinsic value than agricultural commodities that can alleviate hunger and sustain survival as the story of Midas proves. Primitive cultures used shells, salt, cloves and sugar as currencies. What is their value now? Currency values are ephemeral and based on faith rather than substance, as the citizens of the Weimar Republic, Bolivia, Brazil and Argentina know from past painful experiences.

The US is the world's largest debtor sustained like Blanche Dubois of "A Streetcar Named Desire" on the kindness of strangers and mercifully dependent on Japan and China holding two trillions of it, out of a sense of gratitude or selfishly malevolent design.

So now what can and will the US do? For even military strength has its limits as Iraq shows. One is reminded of a couplet translated from the Mahabharata about the invincible Arjuna assigned to transport Yadava women from Kurukshetra to Dwarka. He is miffed at this paltry task unfit for a conquering hero. On the way he is vanquished by a bunch of highway robbers. His Gandiva breaks and his inexhaustible quiver runs out of arrows.

"Manushya kadi balwaan nahi
Samaya sub se balwaan
Kaabe Arjuna lutiyo
Wahi dhanush wahi baan"

Men (people or nations) are not always dominant. Time is more dominant. A time will come when neither the unbreakable Gandiva, nor the inexhaustible quiver and their owner, the invincible warrior will be triumphant.


More by :  Gaurang Bhatt, MD

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